"I came. I saw. I conquered." - Julius Caesar, 47 BC
A sweet friend of mine who had lived in Europe for a number of years once mentioned to me that Rome was her favorite city because of its layers and layers of history. She described walking atop cobblestone streets that suddenly turn into sheets of glass so that those passing by can see the ancient ruins found beneath the streets. My wanderlust raider went up, and I immediately went home to research Rome. Every article that I read echoed her thoughts, and I was sold. A few months later I was traveling Europe and made sure to make time for this ancient city.
Walking through an endless sea of basilicas and stunning churches throughout Rome was a truly beautiful experience, but, for me, it was the Colosseum that won ALL the trophies. From the moment I first set eyes on it from my flight into Italy, I knew that the Colosseum was well deserving of the spot it had been holding on mine and many others' bucket lists.
The entire complex is beyond words. The layer and layers of architecture and history here are mind blowing. I was on "cloud 9" winding in and around ancient steps and archways. What an unbelievable experience. If you are planning a trip to Europe and deciding what cities to visit, give Rome a shot. The city is filled with block after block of ancient ruins and architecture worth seeing in your lifetime. Read More about the History of the Colosseum and Tips for Visiting below:
A Brief History of the Colosseum:
The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD making it the largest amphitheater in Rome. It held a staggering 50,000 people. To put that into a perspective that people like my father will understand, that is a little more than half the size of the LSU Tiger stadium. Speaking of tigers, the main use for this Colosseum was to watch brutal and quite barbaric games that both humans and animals participated in. In its worst match (that lasted 117 days), the Colosseum saw 9,000 gladiators and 10,000 animals die. Violent much?
No longer used as an amphitheater, the Colosseum has suffered from centuries of dis-repair. With the fall of the Roman Empire, during the Middle Ages, the Colosseum sat abandoned and all of its travertine and marble slabs were plundered. In recent years, the growth of the city and its traffic vibrations have taken a toll on the complex as well. This triggered a major restoration project to preserve the history told in the walls here. Now, you can only visit the top tiers of the amphitheater by guided tours. This cuts down on the tourist footprint. For more tips on visiting read below:
A Few Tips for Visiting the Colosseum:
How to get to the Colosseum:
There are quite a few ways to get around the city. Rome does have a metro system but it is not as comprehensive as it could be. Even still, the blue line will take you straight to the Colosseum Station. Then, simply ask what bus line to take from there. The double-decker bus tours do stop here as well if you would rather go that route. Download the entire google maps onto your phone for any city that you visit, including Rome to help you navigate without service.
A ticket to the Colosseum buys you entry to both the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Most tourists make the mistake of purchasing their tickets at the Colosseum which makes the ticketing lines incredibly long. You can actually purchase tickets at the Palatine Hill or the Roman Forum and you will get right in. Or, book in advance which is always easier. Either way, the line into the Colosseum can be long. This is why it is so important to not wait in two long lines if you can avoid it. Another option is to purchase a Roma Pass. This offers a free pass to the first two museums or sites that you visit. After that, you get discounted ticket rates.
What to expect during the visit:
Once you do have your ticket, as previously mentioned, you will wait in an often long line to enter the Colosseum. There is a checkpoint before entering so have yourself ready to go through the security. This is what can cause a slow pace in a long line of people wanting to move forward. The Colosseum opens at 8:30am. This is the recommended time to arrive to avoid crowds and the hot sun if you are visiting in the summer. Overall, there is a lot to see so start your tour early and save time to visit the rest of the grounds.
The Colosseum will not disappoint. It is a stunning piece of history. At the end of your tour, there is also a nice gift shop if you are looking for a take away from the experience. Bring your camera, some water and snacks, and great walking shoes. You will do a lot of walking! Enjoy your time visiting this landmark. Now, you will be able to return home and say, "VENI, VIDI, VICI!" "I came. I saw. I conquered!"